When you think about anime, you don’t normally think of it as the most serene form of entertainment. I mean, relaxing is always our goal when we fire up a new episode, but not every show aims to leave us at peace. I thought about this topic mostly because of the new wave of Akame ga Kill watchers out there who are probably being followed by the same black cloud that the simulcast crowd dealt with last year. While incredibly enjoyable and engaging, the show doesn’t exactly give us much to be happy about. Couple that with the weekly episode of Erased, a show that has toyed with my emotions more than anything in recent memory, and we have some pretty anxious anime fans.
It doesn’t have to be a depressing or tense series that has you wound up though. From time to time life just sucks, and sitting down to a good anime can go a long way in easing some of the stress built up from a long day at work or school. Here are some of the shows that I think excel at doing just that.
Can you tell that we like K-ON? Carlos and Logan have both done glowing reviews on the site, and here I am recommending it as a way to unwind. There’s a good reason for this; if there is one thing that K-ON does best, its to put a smile on your face. Watching these girls bond over light music and subsequently make their dreams a reality, fosters an anime that makes you feel as good as any other. Each girl has her quirks, and their chemistry creates a constant stream of humorous and uplifting situations that could bring light to even the darkest of moods. Since we already have two reviews on the site (which you should totally read if you’re interested) I’ll quickly make my point. What K-ON really comes down to is cute girls, making good music, and doing cute things. So, unless you’re the type of person that finds enjoyment in kicking puppies recreationally, you will be happy watching this show.
Kimi to Boku (You and Me)
Kimi to Boku, or You and Me in English, is a woefully underrated show about a close knit group of high school boys doing “high school boy things.” Through a flowery lense, we follow the group of five childhood friends as they experience both the awkward, and heartfelt moments that come with growing up on the cusp of adulthood. You would be hard pressed to find a more honest and authentic depiction of teenage life and friendship, and while the humor doesn’t always hit the mark, nostalgia is constantly peeking out from behind every corner. The color palette never strays from its soft pastels, making the art and animation very pleasing to the eye, and the sound track does a good job of supporting the show’s overall cheerful tone.
Its unfortunate that Kimi to Boku will always be lost in the bin of anime mediocrity. Knowing anime fans, if the main cast were to be replaced by five cute girls, it would be bumping elbows with the best of them. Maybe it’s more geared toward pleasing a female audience, but I think that anyone who gives it a chance is going to find enjoyment, and hopefully walk away feeling pretty darn good.
Non Non Biyori
There are few anime out there that can match Non Non Biyori in terms of an overall feeling of serenity. The entire anime is basically built around it, and it cradles you in its warm embrace from the moment you start each episode. The four girls of the main cast are a joy to be with, as we follow them through their day to day activities in the rural farm town of Asahigaoka. The youngest, Renge, is a particularly precious 1st grader. She gives us plenty of “kids say the darndest things” moments, that are equally as charming as they are hilarious. Natsumi’s antics are always causing some sort of humorous situation for the group, including her older sister Komari who is in a constant struggle to prove that she’s the onee-san due to her short and childlike appearance. Rounding out the main cast is Hotaru who recently moved from Tokyo, and has an obsessive admiration for Komari. Together, the four girls of varying ages attend their classes and go about life in the countryside, which is always surprisingly, eventful, and entertaining.
As much as I love the characters in this show, the thing that makes it truly a pleasure to watch is the overall atmosphere. We don’t get to see Japan’s countryside nearly enough in anime, and I always marvel at how beautiful it is. Non Non Biyori captures that beauty perhaps better than any show out there. The fantastic attention to detail and the vibrant colors, create background images that could probably be featured in an art gallery, and when you couple that with tranquil music and sounds of nature, you can’t help but enter a state of pure bliss. I’m not sure there is any bad mood that can’t be cured by Non Non Biyori. The combination of its peaceful atmosphere, charming cast, and effective comedy make it the ultimate antidepressant. If you choose any one show on this list, make this the one.
Usagi Drop (Bunny Drop)
Usagi Drop is the ultimate heartwarming tale about parenting, and growing up. The story starts off with 30 year old Daikichi Kawachi, who while at his funeral, find’s out that his grandfather had an illegitimate daughter named Rin. After his death, Rin has now been left without a family. As a bachelor, Daikichi decides that he is going to take on the responsibility of raising Rin, but his lack of experience in raising children will make that much easier said than done.
Watching Rin and Daikichi get used to their new life, and forge a Father/Daughter bond, ends up being one of the most beautiful and touching things you will ever see in anime. Couple that with an incredibly pleasing art style, and great music, and you have a recipe for a wonderfully feel good story that couldn’t possibly leave you disappointed. (There are rumors of an Usagi Drop manga… Don’t believe them. Stay far away from anything that tries to call itself an Usagi drop manga. Seriously)
Kiniro Mosaic (KINMOZA)
Kiniro Mosaic is much like K-ON in the sense that it is a show about cute school girls, doing the things that they do best. There’s honestly not much of a plot to speak of in this show, but it manages to pull of the moe blob better than almost anything out there. What we do get is a humorous and heartwarming friendship between a group of three Japanese girls, and two English transfer students. Their interactions are always weird and adorable, and you’ll find while watching that it’s nearly impossible to wipe the smile off your face.
Aside from the enjoyable characters, Kiniro Mosaic has visuals that very nearly resemble a watercolor painting come to life. It never jumps out at you, but provides a beautiful backdrop to support the characters as they go about their usual antics. The soundtrack might be the biggest thing that sets it apart from its peers however, as we don’t typically get a side of soft piano and classical tunes to go with our moe. It all comes together to create a show that will simply make you feel good, and that’s what we’re looking for right?
Feeling better yet?
Anime doesn’t need to be super dramatic, or action packed to be enjoyable. Sometimes a mellow comedy or uplifting story is just the thing we need. So the next time you find yourself feeling a little tense after a particularly rough anime series, or need the perfect show to unwind after a busy day, try giving one of these a watch, and prepare to smile.